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  • Can Caring Letters Prevent Warrior Suicide?

    A service member reads a letter. DoD photo by PHCS Mitchell.
    A service member reads a letter. DoD photo by PHCS Mitchell.

    “Can caring letters prevent warrior suicide?” The Caring Letters Project, launched by DCoE’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2), aims to answer this question. The project is part of the Department of Defense’s efforts to identify and disseminate the most effective suicide prevention strategies.

    The Caring Letters Project is a suicide prevention intervention that involves sending brief caring letters and reminders of available treatment to individuals following psychiatric hospitalization. The project is currently underway at Madigan Army Medical Center (MAMC) located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash.

    Although much research has investigated the factors associated with suicidal behavior in both civilian and military populations, there haven’t been many controlled trial studies of suicide prevention interventions. Sending caring letters to patients after discharge from inpatient psychiatry treatment is one of the few techniques that have been shown to decrease suicide according to a randomized controlled trial (Motto & Bostrom, 2001, Comtois & Linehan, 2006).

    Here’s how it works:

    • Research assistants meet with warriors on the MAMC inpatient psychiatry unit and speak with them about their hobbies, family and plans after discharge
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  • Participate in DCoE’s Monthly Webinar: “Addressing Trauma, Grief and Loss in Military Children”

    ** Our webinar on Supporting Our Military Children When Trauma, Grief and Loss Arise, is happening this Thursday, May 27, from 1300 to 1430 hrs EST.

    Explaining to a child that their parent is deploying is never an easy task. Explaining that their parent has changed or died is even more difficult. We are hosting this webinar to help our military families who have to endure these challenges. The webinar will discuss strategies for discussing these sensitive issues with children.

  • The Real Warriors Campaign Celebrates its One Year Anniversary

    Tomorrow, DCoE’s Real Warriors Campaign will celebrate one year of combating the stigma associated with seeking psychological health care and traumatic brain injury (TBI) treatment. Since launching May 21, 2009, the campaign has been promoting the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration.

    DoD leadership want all members of the military community to know that:

    • You are not alone. Not all wounds are visible
    • Everyone experiences psychological stress during deployment, and talking about it helps
    • Reaching out is a sign of strength
    • Treatments, tools and resources are available to strengthen resilience and assist in recovery and reintegration
  • A Warrior's Poem: "Murder--So Foul"

    Members of the 104th Infantry marching though the snow soon after their attack of Christmas day. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
    Members of the 104th Infantry marching though the snow soon after their attack of Christmas day. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

    While cleaning out their father Sgt. James Lenihan’s basement after he died, Brooklyn, N.Y. based Rob Lenihan and his sister, Joan Lenihan, found this poem that he wrote about World War II. Lenihan was assigned to the 413th Infantry in the 104th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, nicknamed "the Timberwolves." He toured Europe fighting.

    With the mantra, "nothing in hell must stop the Timberwolves," the division was responsible for overrunning the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp, and was later recognized as a liberating unit by the U.S. Army's Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

    Sgt. Lenihan was wounded in action and later received a Purple Heart. He never spoke with his family about the emotions he experienced during war, and they were very surprised to find this poem. Towards the end of Lenihan's life, he actively sought out his old war buddies and described his time serving as one of the "worst and greatest experiences" of his life.

    The DCoE Blog Team thanks the Lenihan family for allowing us to share this poem with our readers. We hope it helps you in your personal healing process, or those with whom you work or love.

    I shot a man yesterday
    And much to my surprise,
    The strangest thing happened to me
    I began to cry.

  • Through My Eyes: A Warrior’s Experience

    Sgt. Bill Campbell with Pax. Photo courtesy of Puppies Behind Bars.
    Sgt. Bill Campbell with Pax. Photo courtesy of Puppies Behind Bars.

    Sgt. Bill Campbell returned from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Pax – a documentary film that premiered Wednesday at the GI Film Festival in Washington, D.C. – tells the story of how a dog named Pax, trained by inmate Laurie Kellogg at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, helps him heal on a daily basis.

    Before the screening, Campbell and his wife were introduced along with Pax, and I was filled with pride and raw emotion. There was a standing ovation that I didn’t want to end. The lights were dimmed, and the film began. It was a mere 22 minutes long, but within those 22 minutes we followed lives being changed on a scale not able to be measured. I won’t try to give a blow by blow account of the movie, but I will tell you what has stayed with me.

    Imagine going to a foreign country, wanting to be part of something bigger than you, wanting to help your fellow soldiers and wanting to make a difference. You leave behind a “normal” job, a life and the comforts of “home” that we all take for granted at some point in our lives. You know full well that at any time you could die, or lose a limb, a fellow soldier, or kill another human being, but you are still willing to take the risk to serve your nation and the principles upon which you believe it stands.

  • Military Teens Deal With Decade of War

    From left, Darien Crank, Chelsea Jarvis and Cornelius Madison head to class at Fort Campbell High School on Fort Campbell, Ky., April 15, 2010. DoD photo by Elaine Wilson
    From left, Darien Crank, Chelsea Jarvis and Cornelius Madison head to class at Fort Campbell High School on Fort Campbell, Ky., April 15, 2010. DoD photo by Elaine Wilson.

    *Keep an eye on the Family Matters Blog. Launched by Elaine Wilson, editor and writer for American Forces Press Service, the blog provides great resources and support for military families on topics ranging from deployments and separations to the challenges of everyday life.

    This post about war and military teens is republished from her blog.

    One of the things I admire most about my children is their unadulterated candor.

    I know I can count on them to let me know if my outfit looks less than perfect or if I’m looking particularly haggard that morning. “Mom, I’d change that shirt if I were you,” my 8-year-old daughter will tell me with her big, innocent eyes. “Your hair looks weird today,” my 5-year-old son will tell me with considerably less tact.

    I was hoping I’d find the same candor on my trip to Fort Campbell, Ky., and I wasn’t disappointed. I traveled there to interview military teens and write about how they’re coping with this decade of war.

    I interviewed three teens on their turf, the Fort Campbell High School, and asked them about every aspect of military life, from what they enjoyed most to what’s been the toughest aspect for them.

    I first met Darien Crank, a high school senior, who is preparing to head off to college. His father is deployed, for the third time in six years, and he was very blunt about the impact of his absences on their relationship. “He’s been gone for so long, I can’t even imagine our relationship being really close,” he told me.